Test flight paves the way for space exploration

From KOB-TV News - By: Taryn Bianchin, KOB.com - Sunday was SpaceShipTwo’s first solo flight over the Mojave Desert. Virgin Galactic’s Mothership carried the spaceship 45,000 feet in the air before launching it.Two pilots flew the craft 11 minutes before landing on a runway. Virgin Galactic says it already has 370 deposits for commercial flights scheduled to launch from Spaceport America, located near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Those trips will cost $200,000. Flights could begin within the next five years. See Video

Martinez now says she wouldn’t buy office supplies from aide again

NewNM thinks that it is good for people to be able to change their minds when they realize they are wrong. That is a best practice.

From NM Politics.net - by Heath Haussamen - When the Albuquerque Journal first reported in August that Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez’s office had purchased more than $60,000 in office supplies from a company owned by one of her top deputies, Martinez said she would do it again. Martinez, now the GOP nominee for governor, was quoted by the Journal as saying she would do the same thing as governor, as long as the deal saved money and “so long as there was transparency in that transaction.” Two months later, following a number of headlines about the deal and repeated attacks from Democrats, Martinez has changed her mind. Read more


Congressional Staffers Gain From Trading in Stocks

From the Wall Street Journal - WASHINGTON—Chris Miller nearly doubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It was a perfectly legal bet, but he's no ordinary investor. Mr. Miller is the top energy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (photo on left) who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid's office, initially defended Mr. Miller's purchase of shares in the company, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. He said the aide had no influence over tax incentives for renewable-energy firms, and that other factors boosted the stock. But on Sunday, Mr. Manley added: "Mr. Miller showed poor judgment and Senator Reid has made it very clear to Chris and all his staff that their actions must not only follow the law, but must meet the higher standards the public has a right to expect from elected officials and their staffs." Read more

Budget Troubles Begin to Emerge in Las Cruces

City Council work session meeting held on Tuesday, October 12, 2010.

1. The pet of the week (Chihuahua) was presented.
2. Item # 3 Budget Strategies for Fiscal Year 2012 was moved to the top of the agenda at the request of Councilor Connor. Dick Gerhart, Financial Services Department made a presentation and suggested that the $4.3 million Additional Managed Reduction (AMR’s ) is working even though it does not target individual line items. He proposed that the AMR’s become permanent and that more are needed. He believes the economic recovery has begun in Las Cruces and, unlike the rest of the state, is experiencing job growth. The Department is forecasting for the period FY 2011-2016 a 4.7% annual growth rate, annual City salary increases of 2.8% with a 5.8% annual increase in benefits (total 8.6% annual increase in employee costs), Editorial note: Since here will be no Federal Cost of Living increases again next year why is the City proposing pay increases?, 2 new employees per year, and that no new facilities (fire or police stations, etc) will become operational. The assumption is that there will be no changes in the current tax laws. The current 5-year forecast calls for $69 million in spending with only $26.8 million in revenue. This leaves a budget shortfall of $42.2 million ($8.44 million per year). The Department is advocating using $7 million (approximately half of the City reserve fund) to mitigate the shortfall until the economy recovers. He suggested that the City consider the following budget strategies which included line item budget cuts, salary reductions, reduce or eliminate community event sponsorships, reduce printing/advertising/translation services, eliminating City positions/travel/training, consider reorganization and consolidation, reducing transit on weekends/holidays, close the Life Center & Club Fusion, mandatory furloughs, limit school resource officers, reduce hours of the libraries and museums while increasing their fees, reduce street lighting, and privatize or contract for selected City services, impose fees for repeated false alarms.
· Councilor Connor commented that City revenues show an increase but it was actually caused by decreased City spending. She believes the City needs to consider budget offsets by higher paid retiring city employees and any new full-time employee hires. She said the City has done a good gob in restoring the reserve account and is concerned that it may be reduced to minimum levels. She said the proposed reductions over 5-years were feasible but over one year would be devastating and that Public Safety must remain the top budget priority. The City should look at not filling retirement positions, consider early retirement options. She wanted to know if paid time off could be reduced since City has more paid holidays than either the County or the State. City employees receive up to 160 hours of vacation, 96 hours of sick leave, 16 hours of personal time, and annually converting unused comp-time to paid time.
· Councilor Thomas was more concerned with the process and needs more information to make any decision. She wants to be able to evaluate the value of any employee cuts versus another employee and that the Council needs to establish some principles for employee reductions.
· Councilor Silva wanted expenditures versus revenue chart added to the quarterly update packet.
· Councilor Sorg was having difficulty understanding the data and the job growth comments. Mr Gerhart explained the data reflects job growth every month since May. Councilor Sorg was concerned that Community Development Department work effort has significantly been reduced without reduction in full time employees. He thinks in the next 5 years we will have higher than the projected annual 4.5% growth. He also wanted to know if the projected 2 new employees per year included the Police Department and was informed it did. He thought the proposed reductions were extremely ambitious and agrees that principles need to be established. He also wants Public Safety to be preserved.
· Councilor Small said we are experiencing a period of slow steady growth but wanted to know what characterized General Fund growth over the past 5-years. He was informed that is was primarily increased City staffing. He wanted to know if some City programs and their staffs would be eliminated and was told YES. He wants all affected parties to be involved in any discussions to eliminate their programs. He advocates keeping prudent but not excessive reserves to preclude cutting programs. He wants to City to pursue early retirement options instead of elimination of program staffs.
· Councilor Pedroza was concerned about the assumption that there would be no changes in tax policy. Mr Gerhart acknowledged that repeal of the “Hold Harmless” tax provisions on food and medical will adversely impact this strategy by approximately $8 million annually. She agreed that the public should have input into which programs are eliminated. She wants to protect the most vulnerable citizens from program cuts and said you can’t cut summer recreation programs because the impact working parents and you can’t cut seniors programs.
· Mayor Miyagishima agreed the City needed to protect public safety, roads & transit, parks, and children and seniors. He suggested that flex time could save the City money. His proposal would impact approximately 2% of the City staff who would take a 10% salary cut to work at home. He contends that this would result in savings to the City and a net increase to the employee who would save the commute costs and child care expenses. Editorial note: How much work can the City expect from an employee who is at home watching her/his children? He was informed that the currently technology in the new City Hall will not accommodate this without software and system upgrades. He also said that most homeowner insurance policies cover $500 fees for fire department calls and perhaps we should impose this on the citizens. There will be another work session in November to discuss the budget.
3. Item # 1 – Downtown Camunez Building Proposal. This is a joint effort between the Dona Ana Arts Council and the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership to take ownership of the old Camunez Building. This building in the Main Street downtown mall area is currently owned by the State and can be transferred to the City and then to a non-profit entity. They want to renovate it into a “Mercado” to incubate Farmers Market vendors, small businesses and film/media technology clients. It is a no risk project for the City and funding will come from Federal and State grants and private partnerships. The Council supported the proposal and while the City cannot offer any funding it will use the City lobbyist to help secure Federal and State funding. They commented that this was an “economic gardening” project and would result in better growth than “fishing” for big businesses.
4. Item #3 – Revisiting RV Parking Regulations. Mayor Miyagishima put this item back on the agenda because he is concerned about people living in their RV’s and potential safety issues for the fire department. It was obvious from the beginning that the Mayor and the Council did not feel the recently passed ordinance was restrictive enough. Fire Chief Brown said it was not an issue for the fire department as long as one side of the residence provided rear access for firefighters. The Mayor wants to impose side yard setbacks (editorial note: This would essentially eliminate RV parking on sides of homes) and he would prefer that RV’s only be stored in the backyard. Additionally, he would like to limit them to 72 hours parking on the street revoking the current ordinance of two weeks. Councilor Thomas and Councilor Sorg both are not satisfied with the current ordinance and advocate more stringent controls. Mayor Miyagishima directed the staff to prepare a new ordinance based on the comments during the meeting.
5. Item #4 – Global Spectrum Convention Center Annual Report. Since the Convention Center is not yet open for business the report centered on restating the policies and expectations of Global Spectrum in support of the City of Las Cruces.

Martinez Responds to "Tejana" Label

Susana Martinez
From Capitol Report New Mexico - Susana Martinez responds to “una Tejana” ad: “It’s inappropriate … They’re talking about me as a person instead of where I stand.” Earlier this week, the campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Diane Denish ran this ad from Democratic Lt. Governor candidate Brian Colón calling Republican gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez “una Tejana.” It’s a reference to Martinez being born in El Paso and in the ad, Colón also says that Martinez is “bought and paid for by a Texas billionaire” and that Denish is “from New Mexico and of New Mexico.” Read more here and watch video:


Halperin: Why Obama is Losing the Political War

President Obama Signing a Bill 
From Time.com - Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November's elections. With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. Read more here:

Soap Opera Continues in Herrera Office

Mary Herrera
From NMPolitics.net - An e-mail from Secretary of State Mary Herrera to former employee James Flores appears to show that she asked Flores to help her re-election campaign by getting involved in the GOP and discouraging Republicans from running a candidate against her. Herrera insists that things are not as they appear, and that the e-mail is really about trying to make Republicans feel welcome in her office. Read more here:


Giddens Named WAC Player of Week Again

Englewood, Colo. - Senior outside hitter Kayleigh Giddens has been named Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Player of the Week for the week of Oct. 4-10. This is the second WAC Player of the Week honor of the season for Giddens and the fourth of her career.
The Lubbock, Texas, native led the Aggies to road wins at San Jose State and Fresno State. She hit .357 with 6.43 kills, 3.00 digs, 0.57 service aces and 7.50 points per set.
"We had a good week on the road and our team played well against two pretty good teams," Giddens said.  "I am happy to receive the honor and I hope we can continue to play well."
After posting two consecutive 20-plus kill matches, senior Kayliegh Giddens leads the Western Athletic Conference in kills per set at 4.91, while she is also in the top 10 nationally for kills per set.
Against the Spartans, she tallied 20 kills, seven digs and two service aces. Giddens followed it up with her WAC-leading eighth double-double of the season at Fresno State, tying her career high with 25 kills and 14 digs. She also added four blocks and two service aces. The last time she tallied 25 kills was against Idaho, Nov. 7, 2009.
The New Mexico State volleyball team returns to the Pan American Center with three matches in four days. The Aggies take on Boise State, Thursday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. before meeting Idaho, Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. NM State finishes the week with a match against WAC foe Nevada, Sunday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. The matches against the Broncos and the Wolf Pack are on AggieVision and can be seen on Comcast throughout the state of New Mexico. Saturday's match can be heard on KSNM 570 AM with Kyle Doperalski.

Savage and Stampler Earn WAC Player of the Week Honors

Englewood, Colo. - Junior defensive lineman Donte Savage and sophomore place kicker Tyler Stampler have been named WAC Defensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week, respectively as announced by the conference office Monday morning. This is the first WAC Player of the Week awards for the Aggies this season.
Savage, a native of Portland, Ore., had a career night for the Aggies in a 16-14 win over New Mexico. He led the team with nine tackles, while recording the Aggies' first two sacks of the season. He also tallied four tackles for a loss of 33 yards and forced two fumbles, one of which gave NM State the ball back and led to the game-winning field goal. Savage also recorded two pass break-ups.
Stampler, from Davie, Fla., hit three field goals in the Aggies' win over New Mexico, 16-14. He recorded a long of 39 yards in the first quarter, followed by a 34 yarder late in the same quarter. Stampler would hit the game-winning field goal with just 1:56 left in the game, a 22-yard attempt. Stampler becomes the first Aggie kicker to hit three field goals in a game since Nov. 6, 2004.
The Aggies travel to Fresno, Calif., this week to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs beginning at 8:30 p.m. (MT). The game will be televised on ESPNU.

1972 Dolphins Pop Corks

From Bloomberg - Dick Anderson and Nick Buoniconti for years popped champagne corks when the National Football League’s last unbeaten team fell, leaving the perfect mark of their 1972 Miami Dolphins unmatched. They’ve never had to make plans for the uncorking as early as they do this season. Just one year after the Indianapolis Colts opened 14-0 and the New Orleans Saints 13-0, the Kansas City Chiefs stand as the NFL’s last unbeaten team at 3-0. With the Chiefs in Indianapolis this weekend, the NFL could have its first season without a 4-0 club since 1970. read more here:


Inflation of Corn Prices Doing Damage

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Meat prices are poised to extend a 14 percent rally this year that drove U.S. retail costs to the highest levels since the 1980s as surging corn futures prevent livestock producers from expanding their herds. The U.S. cattle herd in July was the smallest since 1973 and the number of breeding hogs last month was near the lowest ever, government data show. Corn futures jumped to a two-year high today and the price of the main feed ingredient is more than 70 percent above the 10-year average. U.S. per-capita beef supplies next year will be the lowest since 1952 and pork the smallest since 1976, industry researcher CattleFax said. Hog futures will rise 14 percent by July and cattle may gain 3.6 percent by April, according to a Bloomberg survey of analysts. Wendy’s/Arby’s Group Inc., the maker of the 1,360-calorie Baconator Triple burger, and CKE Restaurants Inc., owner of the Hardee’s chain, have warned investors they are contending with higher commodity costs. Read more here:

G-20 Finance Chiefs Fail on Exchange Rates

Leaders of the world economy failed to narrow differences over currencies as they turned to the International Monetary Fund to calm frictions that are already sparking protectionism. Exchange rates dominated the IMF’s annual meeting in Washington on concern that officials are relying on cheaper currencies to aid growth, risking retaliatory devaluations and trade barriers. China was accused of undervaluing the yuan, while low interest rates in the U.S. and other rich nations were blamed for flooding emerging markets with capital. Finance ministers and central bankers pledged to improve cooperation, yet did little to show how they would alter their ways beyond agreeing to let the IMF study the matter. With the dollar down 11 percent against the yen since mid-June, compared with less than 3 percent versus the Chinese yuan, the focus turns to Group of 20 talks in South Korea in coming weeks to prove international policymaking isn’t in tatters. Read more here:

Fed Easing No Fix for Structural Problems

FRB Chair Ben Bernanke
Any action the Federal Reserve announces at its November policy meeting may not do much to help Timco Aviation Services hire 300 people. While a new round of asset purchases may help reduce cyclical joblessness, the result of weak demand in a battered economy, it may not have much effect on structural unemployment, losses caused by changes in the labor market. “What you have is a great workforce in the local area that have been working in textiles or furniture, but they’re not trained in aviation-specific skills,” said Kevin Carter, the Greensboro, North Carolina, company’s co-chief executive officer, who is struggling to fill positions that require qualifications such as an FAA airframe and power-plant certificate. Read more here:


Star Parker: Dictators Si, Republicans, No

Star Parker
Atlantic Magazine journalist and blogger Jeffrey Goldberg is trying to understand why blacks are such “very forgiving people.” Why does he think they are? Well, how could any black American be, or even think about being, a Republican when, according to Goldberg, Republican “party officials…venerate the Confederacy.” Translation: When it’s clear, at least to Goldberg, that the Republican Party is a party of racists, how can they get, or expect to get, black votes? Read more here:


Lurita Doan - The Confiscation of Time

Lurita Doan
From Townhall.com - Pity the poor entrepreneur and small business owner in America now getting socked, with the mother of all taxes, by a government that has become either hostile, or indifferent, to understanding what it takes to build a business, grow a company and hire more workers. I'm not talking about new fees, but about a much greater confiscatory tax, imposed without any real debate or consideration--the confiscation of time. Read more here:


Phillips: GOP Don't Fool Us This Time

Joseph Phillips
While listening to music on my I-phone, I began to contemplate the upcoming mid-term elections. The rock band, The Who sang: “I'll tip my hat to the new constitution/Take a bow for the new revolution/Smile and grin at the change all around me/Pick up my guitar and play/Just like yesterday/And I'll get on my knees and pray/We don't get fooled again” It struck me that the words could be an anthem for a new political generation. Of course, they might also be a prescient warning for voters casting ballots on November second. Read more here: